“Our shy girl, Molly, was found in the intake at the Crystal River Power Plant in Citrus County and brought to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on July 19, 2006. Upon arrival, Molly was very active and was found to be a good body weight but had a number of injuries. First, her left rear flipper was a stub, which (even today) we are uncertain as to whether or not this flipper sustained an injury and healed on its own, or whether this was a birth defect. In addition, ¾ of her left front flipper was gone, and the left side of her neck had a large, open laceration. Even though these injuries were a few days old, the staff was confident that they were the result of a shark attack.

Molly was kept in shallow water during her first week here at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, but she began to eat squid almost right away, and was scheduled almost immediately to have what remained of her left front flipper amputated. Molly’s procedure was conducted on July 28, 2006 by our former veterinarians, Dr. Cianciolo and Dr. Kirsch. While under anesthesia for over two hours, what remained of Molly’s left front flipper was amputated at her mid humerus and stitched closed. The laceration on the left side of her neck was also treated, cleaned and stitched closed as well. Molly began eating regularly again approximately a week after the surgery. Over the next month, she continued to make progress, and her wounds continued to heal. Once her stitches were removed, she had wound care and cleaning at the site conducted every day. In mid-October 2006, Molly wouldn’t open her eyes and was refusing food even though she was spending most of her time floating at the surface. She had blood drawn for testing, and when all tests could not confirm a specific problem, it was determined from her behavior, lack of appetite, and redness of her eyes that Molly was very sensitive to the amount of chlorine in her pool. Even today, the chlorine level of her pool is set so that it does not exceed 0.3ppm (parts per million).

Molly continued to have her wounds cared for in the months that followed. By February 2007, her skin, her laceration, and her wound from her flipper amputation were almost completely healed, and all of her swelling was gone. The care and cleaning of her wounds continued through the following year, and beginning in 2009, it was determined that she would only need to be pulled once a year for her annual physical. Molly currently resides in “Turtle Cove”, where she shares a pool with her pool mate, Stubby.”

By Keyonna Summers, Times Staff Writer

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has observed 200 loggerhead turtle nests so far this year — breaking the record of 195 set in 2003, and it isn’t even the end of the nesting season.

It’s hard to say why, but the high number might be attributed to years of conservation efforts or public awareness, said the aquarium’s sea turtle program supervisor, Mike Anderson.

He said the nests, dug by an unknown number of female loggerheads along the 25 miles of Pinellas County beaches that the aquarium monitors, yielded nearly 3,000 hatchlings.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s a busy year and we’re still seeing hatchlings coming out,” Anderson said. “All around the state I’ve been hearing there’s some record numbers in other counties too, so it’s just been a good year for loggerheads.”

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Year by year

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has seen a record number of loggerhead turtle nests already this year, with 200 nests observed and two months still remaining in the nesting season. Here are total numbers for previous seasons:

Year Nests
2003 195
2004 104
2005 105
2006 115
2007 38
2008 108
2009 138
2010 119
2011 89
2012 200 *

Source: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

*As of Aug. 29. Turtle nesting season ends in late October.

Fifi, a juvenile Kemp’s Ridley, is one of the newest turtle to be admitted into rehab. Found floating 500 yards offshore near Westshore Boulevard in Tampa, Fifi was initially taken to the Florida Aquarium on Saturday, July 21st before being transferred to CMA on Sunday, July 22nd. Upon examination, she was found to be in good overall body condition, with the exception of a 5 inch long crack located on the right side of her plastron. Fifi is currently dry-docked in the Backyard, and received her first CT scan on Tuesday, July 24th.